Adina Browne always knew she wanted to study marine biology. She also dreamed of being the first in her family to attend college. Now, as a 2022 graduate of the University of the Virgin Islands with a bachelor’s degree in marine biology, Adina has accomplished both goals, and achieved even more than she ever imagined.
Her journey to graduation required hard work and resilience. To help pay for tuition, Adina took time off after graduating from high school in Antigua to work and save up money. A friend had recommended UVI’s marine biology program, and she was determined to enroll.
Weeks into her freshman year at UVI, Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit. At the time she was living off campus with her grandmother on St. Thomas and it was a difficult period in the aftermath of the storms. Eventually she moved on campus and described campus life as “amazing”. “I took advantage of many social events and work opportunities”, she says. In addition to working at the Wellness Center and the Sports and Fitness Center, Adina tutored other students in math at the Center for Student Success. “I learned I really liked teaching and it’s something I might think of doing in the future,” she says.
While working at the Sports and Fitness Center, Adina attended soccer practice with some of the male soccer team players. They were impressed with her skills and encouraged her to speak to the athletics director and Donna Andrews in the athletics department. As luck would have it, UVI was interested in starting a female soccer team. Adina was recruited to become a member of UVI’s first female soccer team and awarded a soccer scholarship. Unfortunately, when COVID 19 spread, sports activities had to be put on hold.
It was during that time that Adina learned she was expecting a baby. But that life-changing news didn’t stop her from pursuing her studies. In fact, Adina recalls going free diving with her classmates while eight months pregnant! About the support she received while at UVI, Adina says, “I had an amazing advisor, Dr. Donna Nemeth, who kept me on the ball, and Mary Myers in the employment office gave me helpful advice on how to manage school and family responsibilities.” Leon Lafond, the former student activities director was also a mentor.
Despite being a young mother, student, and employee, in her senior year, Adina took on the challenge of being class president. As part of her role, she joined the Commencement Committee and worked with the Registrar’s office to keep her classmates informed about graduation requirements and commencement activities. “It has been a great experience,” says Adina. “It taught me to be more organized, how to multi-task and I really appreciate the position that I’m in.”
About her time at UVI, Adina says, “UVI made me who I am today!” She credits her mother and grandmother for their support and her father who first instilled in her a love of the ocean when he took her out on boats as a child. She praises God and her Maranatha Seventh Day Adventist Church family.
With a bachelor’s degree under her belt, Adina hopes to work as an aquarist, caring for marine animals, and would eventually like to pursue a master’s degree in veterinarian science. She is also looking forward to spending some time in Antigua with her one-year-old daughter, Adianna.